Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  Songs from “Prince Lucifer.” I. Grave-Digger’s Song

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Alfred Austin 1835–1913

Songs from “Prince Lucifer.” I. Grave-Digger’s Song


THE CRAB, the bullace, and the sloe,

They burgeon in the Spring;

And, when the west wind melts the snow,

The redstarts build and sing.

But Death’s at work in rind and root,

And loves the green buds best;

And when the pairing music’s mute,

He spares the empty nest.

Death! Death!

Death is master of lord and clown.

Close the coffin, and hammer it down.

When nuts are brown and sere without,

And white and plump within,

And juicy gourds are pass’d about,

And trickle down the chin;

When comes the reaper with his scythe,

And reaps and nothing leaves,

Oh, then it is that Death is blithe,

And sups among the sheaves.

Death! Death!

Lower the coffin and slip the cord:

Death master of clown and lord.

When logs about the house are stack’d,

And next year’s hose is knit,

And tales are told and jokes are crack’d,

And faggots blaze and spit;

Death sits down in the ingle-nook,

Sits down and doth not speak:

But he puts his arm round the maid that ’s warm,

And she tingles in the cheek.

Death! Death!

Death is master of lord and clown;

Shovel the clay in, tread it down.